As one of the biggest automakers in the world, Volkswagen’s got a lot on its plate, so much so that I can understand if some of its models don’t get nearly the same amount of attention as the others. But what’s happening with the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet is a real head-scratcher even by VW’s standards.

Volkswagen released the seventh-generation 2013 Volkswagen Golf Mk. VII in 2012. Since that time, the model has given birth to a handful of variants, including the 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen, the 2017 Volkswagon Golf Alltrack, and the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf, to name a few. Conspicuous by its absence in that list is the Golf Cabriolet, which has yet to receive a seventh-generation makeover. Well, Volkswagen has just announced the first details of the 2016 Golf Cabriolet and the key takeaway is…it’s still based on the sixth-generation 2009 Volkswagen Golf.

Yep, Volkswagen’s soldiering on with the Mk6 Golf Cabriolet in a dumbfounding attempt at trying to convince the market that there’s still some appeal left in a version of the Golf that has been replaced three years ago. I mean, really, Volkswagen?

The obvious reaction here is “why?” but if you look past the notable changes on the car and read between the lines of the announcements and press releases, it does appear that the company’s just releasing the Golf Cabriolet just for the sake of releasing it, as if there’s an absence of conviction in trying to make the model a viable competitor in a market that’s already teeming with new offerings from rival brands.

Volkswagen did give the new-old Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet some new exterior and interior digs. At least those things are worth something, right?

But overall, the 2016 Golf Cabriolet still has the look of a car that was built half-heartedly by a company that now doesn’t appear to be interested in building a seventh-generation-based Golf Cabriolet. Hopefully, that’s not the case, but with a move like this, it might very well be.

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet will make its debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Continue reading for my full review of the face-lifted Golf Cabriolet.

Exterior

2016 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet High Resolution Exterior
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As far as makeovers go, Volkswagen wants us to believe that there are enough changes on the 2016 Golf Cabriolet to make it an interesting car. The truth is, it’s hard to make out these updates when you’re casually looking at it. Look a little closer and that’s when you’ll notice the new front bumper and the more pronounced side sills. There are supposedly some new accents on the rear bumper too, but the lack of visual evidence (at this point) makes me wonder how noticeably new and different these accents are.

Other than these updates, Volkswagen’s also opening up the Golf Cabriolet’s potential for customization by offering six new body colors, six new wheel designs, and an additional red soft-top color. This is probably the only positive thing about the Golf Cabriolet’s updated design.

Interior

If there’s one redeemable trait about the 2016 Golf Cabriolet, it’s the cabin. The changes are also minimal but at least they’re more significant than the cosmetic add-ons on the body. For starters, there’s a modernized steering wheel, which probably means that it’s going to be taken from the seventh-generation Golf. New seat design will also be part of the cabin, as well as a handful minor tweaked trim elements.

New seat designs will also be part of the cabin, as well as a handful minor tweaked trim elements.

The real highlights of the cabin are the new radio and infotainment systems. The Composition Colour and Composition Media systems are the backbones of the car’s integrated comms and info section, and are supplemented by the Discover Media navigation system. These handy additions offer a smorgasbord of new and useful tools like Car-Net, which boasts a Guide & Inform feature that provides drivers info about their surroundings, and App Connect, which enables smartphone integration.

For the most part, the interior updates are mostly nondescript. They should still do an adequate job in complementing what was already a solidly laid out cabin. If Volkswagen doesn’t make any changes on the dashboard, expect it to come in the same configuration as its predecessor. That’s a big plus for the Golf Cabriolet because the old dashboard was simple and easy to navigate.

Cabin space is also a big plus for the Golf Cabriolet since the car’s architecture allows for as many as four people to sit inside, comfortably fitting two adults in the back. I just hope that those new seat designs that Volkswagen’s touting on the 2016 model won’t cut into that space.

As much as I like the Golf Cabriolet’s interior, I do have one complaint. The lack of adequate vision at the back when the foldable roof is down is a strike against the car, but but that’s actually an issue most drop-top convertibles have.

Overall, the cabin is probably the most solid section of the car.

Drivetrain

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet will retain its six engine choices: four gas (TSI) versions and two diesel (TDI) options. Power outputs will remain the same across the board, beginning with the 1.2-liter TSI that pumps out 104 horsepower, all the way up to the 2.0-liter TSI that produces 217 horsepower for the GTI trim.

Power outputs will remain the same across the board, beginning with the 1.2-liter TSI that pumps out 104 horsepower, all the way up to the 2.0-liter TSI that produces 217 horsepower for the GTI trim.

In between, the Golf Cabriolet will also receive a pair of 1.4-liter engines with outputs of 124 and 148 horsepower, respectively. Over in the diesel neighborhood, the model will still get the same 2.0-liter TDI engines, producing 109 and 148 horsepower, respectively.

The big change in this regard is VW’s decision to switch to the existing emissions standard in Europe, essentially uprating the engines to make them Euro6 compliant. The four gas engines, for example, will see their fuel mileage ratings improve by an average of 7.5 mpg, whereas the two diesel engines will be boosted by an extra 2 mpg.

These uprated engines should be particularly useful, especially for a trim like the 2.0-liter TDI, which is now expected to achieve 65 mpg to go with emissions as low as 109 g/km.

From all these options, my personal favorite remains the turbocharged 1.4-liter. Not only does it provide enough power to make the Golf Cabriolet fun to drive, but it does so while retaining some semblance of environmental efficiency.

Prices

Unless Volkswagen has a change of heart, don’t expect to see the Golf Cabriolet in the U.S. The company already has four Golf variants — the Golf, 2015 volkswagen Golf GTI, 2016 Volkswagen Golf R, and e-Golf — on the market here, and the convertible slots are already filled up by the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible and the 2014 Volkswagen Eos Convertible.

So how much will the Golf Cabriolet cost in markets where it’s headed? Volkswagen has made no announcements on that end, but expect it to have a price tag of around £22,000 for the base S model and going all the way up to £34,000 for the GT. That would be around $34,000 to $52,000 based on current exchange rates.

Safety

To be fair to the Volkswagen Golf, the 2015 Golf and Golf GTi models have already received Top Safety Pick+ awards from the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Even the Golf Cabriolet, dated as it is, has also received some good safety reviews from Euro NCAP.

It has driver’s and front passenger airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag.

If all else fails, at least Volkswagen can still say that it placed premium importance on the safety features inside the Golf Cabriolet. The existing version of the model that’s out on the market comes with all the standard safety features you’d expect from a car of this status. It has driver’s and front passenger airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag.

Head restraints have also been appointed on all four seats, including whiplash-optimized restraints for the driver and front passenger. Dusk sensors also come standard for the S, SE, and GT trims. However, the base S trim is left out on the rain sensor and the automatic dimming interior rearview mirror.

It’s likely that the 2016 Golf Cabriolet will continue to have these safety-appointed items at its disposal. What’s of interest to me at this point is how Volkswagen’s going to take it to the next level. The company has given no details regarding new safety techs, but in my opinion, features like blind-spot monitors, auto-park assist, and lane-departure warnings should be included in the new model.

Competition

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet High Resolution Exterior
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Just like Volkswagen, Audi unveiled the next-generation A3 a few years ago. Unlike the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, the Audi A3 Cabriolet was released in the guise of the current generation. That by itself gives the A3 Cabriolet a decided advantage. In my mind, the A3 Cabriolet is the template of what an entry-level convertible should be. It’s got a modern look that identifies with Audi’s current design philosophy. It has an interior that’s equal parts sporty and luxurious. It’s also spacious enough to fit four adults.

Engine options favor the Golf Cabriolet because it has six engines to choose from compared to just three for the A3 Cabriolet. That’s not to say that the A3’s engine offerings are wimps by any measure. The base 1.4-liter TFSI is good for 148 horsepower, while the 1.8-liter turbo gets 180 horsepower. A 2.0-liter diesel engine is also available, but not in the US. This particular engine can also produce 148 horsepower.

Pricing for the Audi A3 Cabriolet starts at $36,600 for the base Premium Trim. That goes up to $39,300 for the Premium Plus trim and $45,450 for the top-of-the-line Prestige trim.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

I had high hopes for the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet. I really did. Turns out, Volkswagen didn’t see it that way, which is why we’re left with this. It’s not what I had in mind because the car looks rather bland. The interior is good enough for me, but it doesn’t capture the imagination the way it would have if the model was based on the seventh-generation Golf.

In the end, it doesn’t matter because the car isn’t coming to the U.S. But if it were headed here, I wouldn’t even give it a second glance because, quite frankly, there are better options to consider.

  • Leave it
    • * Doesn’t look like a model Volkswagen has any long-term interest in
    • * Not available in the US
    • * Better look at what other options are available

Press Release

The Golf Cabriolet is one of the most successful open-top cars on the German market and one of the most popular of its kind in Europe. At the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA), Volkswagen is presenting a visually extensive update of the four-seater soft-top best seller.

The changes are easy to identify by the considerably sportier front bumper, the striking side sills and sporty accents on the rear bumper. Moreover, the convertible can now be configured even more individually. Besides six new exterior colours, there is an additional soft-top colour and six new wheel designs. In the interior, there is a new generation of steering wheels and new trim elements as well as new designs for the cloth and leather seats.

The range of engines in the Golf Cabriolet was also uprated to model year 2016 and switched to the Euro 6 emissions standard. The four petrol (TSI) and two diesel engines (TDI) in total are direct-injection turbo engines with powerful torques to match.

Also new on board are the Composition Colour and Composition Media radio/infotainment systems. As a supplement to the Composition Media, the Discover Media navigation system is available. With the new infotainment systems, Volkswagen has brought Car-Net, featuring Guide & Inform, and App Connect smartphone integration to the Golf Cabriolet. Guide & Inform allows the use of Internet-based information channels, which include Online Traffic Information, News, the Vehicle Status Report and Weather. In addition, car drivers can discover restaurants, museums or cinemas in unknown surroundings or access information on free parking spaces in car parks and integrate them in the navigation system’s route guidance.

1.2 TSI 77 kW / 105 PS Fuel consumption in l/100 km: 5,2 - 5,1 ( combined); CO2-emissions in g/km: 119 - 117 ( combined); efficiency class: B

1.4 TSI 92 kW / 125 PS Fuel consumption in l/100 km: 5,5 – 5,3 ( combined); CO2-emissions in g/km: 127 - 121 ( combined); efficiency class: B

1.4 TSI 110 kW / 150PS Fuel consumption in l/100 km: 5,5 – 5,2 ( combined); CO2-emissions in g/km: 128 - 120 ( combined); efficiency class: B-A

2.0 TSI 162 kW / 220PS Fuel consumption in l/100 km: 6,5 ( combined), CO2- emissions in g/km: 152 ( combined); efficiency class:C

2.0 TDI 81 kW / 110 PS Fuel consumption in l/100 km: 4,3 – 4,2 ( combined), CO2-emissions in g/km: 111 – 109 ( combined); efficiency class: A

2.0 TDI 110 kW / 150 PS Fuel consumption in l/100 km: 4,7 – 4,6 ( combined); CO2-emissions in g/km: 125 – 122 ( combined); efficiency class: A

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